LEVEL Workshop: What does solidarity mean in free movement law?

The workshop reflects on the meaning of solidarity in the context of free movement law. Maria Haag explores the shift in the Court of Justice’s jurisprudence in welfare solidarity from a social integration approach to an allegedly ‘neutral’ reliance on secondary rules. Niamh Nic Shuibhne asks whether precise legal obligations can be transposed to the free movement of persons from the more abstract principle of solidarity in EU law. Turning to free movement of goods, Alessandro Petti discusses the relationship between autonomy and solidarity on the basis of the EU Covid-19 vaccines purchase and export mechanism.


12:00- 13:00    Lunch
13:00 -14:00    The Court’s new “mosaic” of equal access to social benefits: insights                            from recent case law, Maria Haag, Tilburg University

The Court of Justice’s recent case law on welfare solidarity reveals a shift away from linking equal access to benefits to the Union citizen’s integration within the host society. Instead, the Court moves towards a more “neutral” approach in applying secondary law rules in which the deservingness of the individual concerned plays no role. This presentation explores the pitfalls of such a move. First, the formalistic, textual interpretation is at times more and at times less convincingly argued. Second, whilst the concept of social integration itself has been subject to criticism, it is also deeply ingrained in EU legislation. By moving away from it, the Court also leaves aside one of the fundamental objectives of free movement law. Finally, this formalist approach potentially has an even more exclusionary effect: the citizen must be completely self-reliant to move within the EU.

Discussant: Øyvind Bø, Research Fellow, University of Oslo

14:00-14:15    Break
14:15–15:15    What does solidarity require as a legal obligation? Niamh Nic                                        Shuibhne, University of Edinburgh 

    Discussant: Tarjei Bekkedal, Professor University of Oslo

‘Solidarity’ is included in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union as one of the values on which the EU is ‘founded’. But are these values just a nice rhetorical idea or do they have more concrete legal consequences? In EU law on the free movement of persons, most debates focus on evidence of the absence of solidarity among the EU Member States, especially when the nationals of other Member States claim assistance. This presentation considers what recent developments on the implications of solidarity in other areas of EU law might mean for the free movement of persons in practical terms, looking in particular at duties of collective responsibility and burden-sharing.

15:15-15:30    Break
15:30–16:30   The EU Covid-19 vaccines purchase and export mechanism: autonomy                         and solidarity across borders, Alessandro Petti, University of Oslo

European strategic autonomy relates to the Union's capacity to act independently. While the EU's institutional discourse stresses the 'open' nature of this process, a tension may emerge between independence and solidarity. The EU Covid-19 vaccines mechanism helps us to reflect on how this tension has been addressed in the context of the free movement regulation of critical goods. In particular, the experience of the Covid-19 vaccines purchase and export mechanism offers insights on the different intensity of the EU's solidarity commitments at the European and global level.  

    Discussant: Christophe Hillion, Professor, University of Oslo

Speakers’ Profile

Maria Haag

Maria is a Lecturer of European Union Law at Tilburg University. She holds a PhD from the European University Institute. Her research interests focus on Union citizenship and free movement law, looking specifically at how EU law shapes the link between (state) institutions and individuals.

Niamh Nic Shuibhne

Niamh is Professor of European Union Law at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on the general principles of EU constitutional law, especially in the context of the free movement of persons and European Union citizenship.

Alessandro Petti

Alessandro is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Oslo and visiting Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute. He holds a PhD from Sciences Po Paris. His principal interest is in the relationship between EU law and international law, with a focus on the European Union’s neighbourhood.



Published Oct. 26, 2022 11:05 AM - Last modified Nov. 15, 2022 1:04 PM